Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

World Health Organization director-general speaks at a press conference

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a press conference on December 20, 2021. (Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

'Unprecedented': WHO Chief Urges Moderna Shareholders to Back Vaccine Tech Transfer

The WHO director-general will present a shareholder resolution calling on the pharmaceutical giant to make its coronavirus vaccine recipe available to the world.

Jake Johnson

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will present a shareholder resolution Thursday calling on the U.S.-based pharmaceutical giant Moderna to make its coronavirus vaccine technology available to the world, a first-of-its-kind move from the U.N. agency as the global pandemic rages on.

"It is an unprecedented appearance for an unprecedented pandemic," Peter Singer, a special adviser to Tedros, told Reuters ahead of Moderna's annual shareholder meeting, where Tedros will present the resolution as vaccine equity campaigners prepare to hold die-ins and other demonstrations at the company's headquarters in Boston.

"It is an unprecedented appearance for an unprecedented pandemic."

Singer said Tedros' presentation will mark the first time the U.N. agency has made such an intervention at a publicly-traded company.

Sponsored by Oxfam America, the resolution calls on Moderna to study "the feasibility of promptly transferring intellectual property and technical knowledge ('know-how') to facilitate the production of Covid-19 vaccine doses by additional qualified manufacturers located in low- and middle-income countries."

Tedros' presentation will come after two of Moderna's largest investors voiced opposition to the shareholder resolution. Moderna's leadership, headed by billionaire CEO Stéphane Bancel, has urged shareholders to block the resolution, claiming it would not "address the realities of the pandemic as it exists today."

Public health campaigners strongly disagree, arguing that technology transfer is essential to ensure sufficient vaccine access in low-income nations. To date, just 15.3% of people in low-income countries have received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose.

Moderna's refusal to abandon restrictive patents and share its publicly funded technology with the world has hampered efforts by a WHO-backed hub in South Africa to make an mRNA-based coronavirus vaccine for developing nations.

"It is unacceptable that Moderna has reaped the benefits of public taxpayer money to develop this blockbuster vaccine, yet refuses to share the recipe with producers across the rest of the world that have the capacity to make mRNA vaccines for countries' current and future needs, for both Covid and other diseases," Mihir Mankad, senior global health advocacy and policy adviser at Doctors Without Borders, said in a statement Wednesday.

"Moderna made this lifesaving mRNA vaccine a reality with substantial U.S. government support," Mankad added, "and both parties need to commit to unconditional sharing of the technology for the purposes of pandemic preparedness."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Still on Track to Win This Primary,' Says John Fetterman After Stroke

"The good news is I’m feeling much better," said Pennsylvania's progressive Lt. Governor, frontrunner in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate. "I'm well on my way to a full recovery."

Jon Queally ·

Buffalo Gunman's Racism Directly Tied to Mainstreaming of White Nationalism, Say Critics

"This hateful, white nationalist rhetoric is not just being spread by lone gunmen. It can also be found on cable news and in the rhetoric of politicians today."

Jon Queally ·

'It's a Fight They'll Get': Defenders of Abortion Rights March Nationwide

One speaker at the Ban Off Our Bodies rally in the nation's capital said that Saturday was just "day one of a 'Summer of Rage' where we will be ungovernable. Ungovernable!"

Jon Queally ·

'A Horror Movie': 10 People Murdered During Mass Shooting by White Supremacist in Buffalo

The alleged shooter, taken into custody by police, streamed the murders online where he also posted what has been described as a racist manuscript.

Jon Queally ·

Russia Cuts Off Electricity to Finland as Tensions Grow Over NATO Expansion

President Vladimir Putin told Finnish President Sauli Niinistö that joining the U.S.-European military alliance would be a "mistake."

Jon Queally ·

Common Dreams Logo